Lancaster, CA —— Logan Taylor didn’t get everything he wanted out of 2017.
The Seattle Mariners farmhand earned a midseason California League All-Star Game spot last year thanks to a hot first half with the Modesto Nuts. He got a ring, too, after Modesto claimed the California League championship in September. But the second half of the season was a near-total personal loss for Taylor after a June 25 oblique strain sidelined him for more than six weeks, and then rendered him ineffective upon returning to the lineup. By the time he rehabbed and got back to Modesto in late August, Taylor’s rhythm at the plate was gone and his bat was cold. Worse still, he largely sat on the bench down the stretch as the Nuts rolled on into the Cal League playoffs — an afterthought at the end of the year after being a key piece just months before. For a guy who two months earlier had represented the Nuts — and the Seattle Mariners — at the league’s All-Star Game, it was a hell of a reality check.
“I missed six or six and a half weeks, whatever it was, but when I came back, hey, there are no excuses,” Logan Taylor told me ahead of Modesto’s 2018 opener on the road in Lancaster last night. “I didn’t perform the way I should have. But it’s a new year now, and I don’t think I’ll be pressing or anything like that. I’m just here to get these guys as good as they can be. I want to be a leader for these guys. And whenever my opportunity arises, I know I’m in a position to take advantage of it.”
Oblique strains are difficult injuries, and by his own account, Taylor may have rushed back a bit in a bid to get back on the field last year. He’s fully healthy now, though, and he hit cleanup for the Nuts on Thursday night in Lancaster, where he produced a walk, a single, and an RBI in five plate appearances. His newfound health has career benefits for Taylor, too: the Texas A&M product is a true super-utility man this year, expected to see significant time across both the infield and outfield.
“My first year in [short-season] Everett I played second, third, and all three in the outfield, and that’s probably what I’m going to do this year as well,” Taylor, who started in left field on Thursday night, said. “As long as I get my bat in the lineup, and get the opportunity to play, that’s all I care about. I work infield and outfield every day now, so regardless of where I am in the lineup, I feel like I’m prepared. All I can do is play hard when I’m in the lineup and let my preparation take over. And if it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be.”
If all goes right, it won’t be meant to be in Modesto for long for Logan Taylor, though; he’s already noticeably more intense in preparation this year, motivated to hit his way up to Double-A Arkansas before too long. Modesto officials are privately pointing to him as their pick to be this year’s breakout prospect on this Nuts roster, too— a group otherwise largely void of significant top-level talent.
Taylor’s natural advantage of having played in the California League before should help push that breakout a bit. On Thursday night, Lancaster JetHawks third baseman Colton Welker — in his first game in the JetHawks’ notoriously wind-swept confines — gave up on a foul pop fly, assuming it would reach the seats. As fly balls tend do in Lancaster, high winds carried the pop up back on to the field and it landed on the tarp down the third base line, well within range for what should have been an out. Not three innings later, out in left field, Taylor stayed on a high foul pop-up, correctly assuming it would float back onto the field despite starting far out into the seats down the left field line. Sure enough, it drifted all the way back out onto the field and into fair territory… landing firmly in Taylor’s glove.
A very small moment — just one routine catch on the first day of a long year ahead — but a sign nevertheless that Taylor is in the right position for a breakout. If all goes to plan, and Logan Taylor again becomes the player he was during last season’s first half, the Seattle Mariners may have a super-utility man in the making.
Logan Taylor, OF, Seattle Mariners
Below, here are six plate appearances Logan Taylor had for the Modesto Nuts late last week when the 2018 minor league season opened:
And here’s video of more than a dozen plate appearances Logan Taylor had for the Modesto Nuts during the summer of 2017:
We’ll be adding many more videos of Seattle Mariners prospects from the first few games of the 2018 season up on our YouTube channel over the weekend and early next week.
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